2017 Consortium

Imaging Network Ontario (ImNO) is a group of interdisciplinary consortia focused on accelerating medical imaging innovation in Ontario. A list of ImNO consortia, their lead researchers and main sponsors can be found below. When applicable, links are provided to a consortium’s website. 

OICR Smarter Imaging Program

Program Director: Dr. Martin Yaffe
Co-director: Dr. Aaron Fenster
Sponsor: Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR)

The goal of the OICR Smarter Imaging Program (OICR SIP) is to increase both the sensitivity (earlier detection) and specificity (more accurate diagnosis) of cancer imaging and to use information from images to help optimize selection of therapy to avoid over- or under-treatment of disease.

OICR SIP focuses on diagnosing and effectively treating cancer with imaging technology and probes that target biomarkers representing molecular, physical or functional changes associated with cancer. In conjunction with the Imaging Translation Program, OICR SIP develops and translates tools and techniques for earlier detection and diagnosis of cancer into clinical practices by exploiting recent advances in molecular biology, chemistry and physics.

OICR Imaging Translation Program

Program Director: Dr. Aaron Fenster
Co-director: Dr. Martin Yaffe
Sponsor: Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR)

The OICR Imaging Translation Program (OICR ITP) accelerates the translation of research into the development of new imaging innovations for earlier cancer detection and diagnosis and treatment through four major projects; probe development and commercialization, medical imaging instrumentation and software, pathology validation, and imaging for clinical trials.

OICR ITP facilitates improved screening and treatment options for cancer patients by streamlining advances of medical imaging through the complex pipeline from discovery through clinical translation and ultimately to clinical use.

Development of Novel Therapies for Bone and Joint Diseases

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher:  Dr. David Holdsworth

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability, affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. The economic burden is high; joint diseases cost the Ontario economy more than $2 billion per year. To reduce this disease burden, this Ontario Research Fund Research Excellence program focuses on the “Development of Novel Therapies for Bone and Joint Diseases,” including improved diagnostic imaging techniques and new approaches for image-guided therapy. A multidisciplinary team of imaging scientists, biomedical engineers, physical therapists, and orthopaedic surgeons work together on key research projects, including the development of new ways to post-process 3D MRI and CT data to guide surgery, dynamic imaging of moving joints (under load), and image-based design of “patient-specific” orthopaedic components.

Development and Translation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology for Neuro-interventional Applications

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Blaine Chronik

In partnership with Synaptive Medical Inc., researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western University are working on the development of new MRI platforms customized for clinical point-of-care imaging. The objectives of the program are to design and produce new high-strength, customized head gradient coils for use within new magnet systems for neuro-interventional and point-of-care applications; to develop delta-relaxation-enhanced MRI (“dreMR”) for neuro-interventional applications; and to establish new procedures and facilities for the systematic evaluation and development of MR-compatible technology.

Heart Failure: Prevention Through Early Detection Using New Imaging Methods

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Frank Prato

Consortium partners: Lawson Health Research Institute, Sunnybrook Research Institute and University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Ten percent of Ontarians over 60 have heart failure. One quarter will die within one year of diagnosis and almost all in ten years. Our LHRI/SRI/UOHI consortium is developing combined PET and MRI imaging methods for early diagnosis when treatment is still possible. The imaging methods developed are being commercialized and will benefit Ontario by improving the health of its citizens and creating new jobs.

Image-guided Device Interventions for Cardiovascular Disease

Sponsor: Ontario Research Fund (ORF)

Lead Researcher: Dr. Graham Wright

With advances in early identification and management of risk factors, combined with effective response to acute events, cardiovascular diseases have evolved from an acute killer to a chronic disease challenge. In recent years, there have been major advances in less invasive treatments. For minimally invasive device therapeutics, imaging and tracking technologies, along with the development of image-modality compatible tools, have unique roles in planning and guiding interventions, as well as monitoring functional results. In electropathophysiology, imaging will guide positioning of pacing devices, identify ablation targets, and direct therapy through fusion of device representations with maps of myocardial structure and function. Similar advances facilitate planning and guidance of both percutaneous and minimally invasive valve repair/replacement and catheter-based revascularization of chronic total occlusions. Researchers at Sunnybrook and Robarts Research Institutes, working with local, national, and multinational diagnostic imaging and interventional device companies, are advancing the state-of-the-art in image acquisition and analysis with ultrasound, MRI, x-ray, and CT methods, including the design of visualization platforms and associated communication and control interfaces for interventional guidance, facilitating fusion and manipulation of prior and real-time imaging and device information. The ultimate goal is more effective utilization of imaging to improve outcomes for those suffering from chronic ischemia, complex arrhythmias, and heart failure related to structural heart diseases.

Hyperpolarized 13C MRI of Placental Metabolic Abnormalities

Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Lead Researcher : Dr. Charlie McKenzie

Over 30% of all pregnancies in Canada and the United States occur in women that are obese. Maternal obesity is often a result of lifelong consumption of an obesity promoting Western Diet that is energy dense and derives most of its calories from fat and carbohydrates.  Altered placental metabolism contributes greatly to increased rates of adverse outcomes in these Western Diet exposed pregnancies, but there is currently no method available to non-invasively measure placental metabolism.  This NIH funded grant (part of the Human Placenta Project) will address this gap by testing a method based on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that allows direct imaging of placental metabolism. The safety of this method will be demonstrated in animal pregnancies and humans. Ultimately we will show that our MRI based method can distinguish the placenta with normal metabolism from one where metabolic function is abnormal due to exposure to the Western Diet.


Sponsor: Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)

BrainsCAN is a high profile, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral program supported at Western by Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund(CFREF). The CFREF program aims to help Canadian postsecondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages forCanada. BrainsCAN was competitively selected for $66M funding through this program for seven (7) years starting in September 2016.

BrainsCAN's goal is to reduce the burden of brain disorders, which affect nearly 3.6 million Canadians, diminishing quality of life and creating an enormous burden on society and on our health-care system. Neurological and psychiatric disorders together account for $22.7 billion per year in health-care costs in Canada. Brain impairments create deficits in memory, attention, knowledge, problem solving, and communication, affecting how those affected interact with everything and everyone around them.This funding will help BrainsCAN researchers radically transform our understanding of brain disorders and deliver effective solutions to the grand challenge of maintaining brain function across the lifespan. With our partners at McGill, Western researchers will continue to make game-changing discoveries that benefit the health, social and financial well-being of Canadians.